Monday, October 22, 2012

Inspired by the16th Century Ruff - A Ruffle Tutorial

Here's a purse I just finished sewing--I call it "The Ruff."
I could have called it the Ruffnerian--but my friend Mark would have collared me.

Speaking of collars . . .

The decorative purse ruffle reminds me of  a mid-16th century collar.
Here's a portrait of Elizabeth I wearing a ruff collar.
Detail of Darnley Portrait of Elizabeth I, c. 1575

I have some photos to share with you how I made a ruffle for the purse.
BEST: to use knit fabrics that do not fray. 

Cut lots and lots of 2" squares. 
Cut the squares using pinking shears.
I used a rotary cutter fitted with a pinking blade and the cutting went really fast. 

Please use extreme caution when using the pinking blade rotary cutter. 

I began by making a foundation fabric strap. 
On the strap I sewed 3 lines.
The sew lines are guidelines

Fold a 2" square into a triangle shape.
Place triangle on one of the sewing lines.
Take 2-3 stitches and stop

Place next triangle in front of the pressure foot.
Stitch through the first triangle,
and 2-3 stitches into the second triangle, then stop.
Stitch through second triangle,
and 2-3 stitches into the third triangle, then stop

Continue folding 2" squares into triangles,
placing one triangle in front of the other.

Start sewing another row of triangles,
on the middle sewing line.

As you add triangles to the middle sewing line,
fold over the triangles from the 1st sewing line
to make room to lay down fabric triangles.

The finished ruffle pictured here (right) has 3 rows of triangles.
creating a nice looking ruffle.
I hand sewed the ruffle to the purse exterior.
But if you make the strap wider to begin with
 you can successfully machine sew the ruffle to the purse during construction.
I hand-pressed the sewing line open, so you can see the construction.
It fluffs up quite nice - could be fun trim for a winter hat. 
Have fun making the ruffle!
Finished Purse
Purse Interior has 4 stacked pockets, and a key fob.

I apologize for accidently erasing my previous post "Seeing Red" where I was showing you a red and a brown faux leather purses I just finished.
What can I say?  I messed up. 

Here are some photos from that post


  1. Dear Mrs. D. - I would certainly be honored to have anything you style referred to as "Ruffnerian." And it would make me feel so much better than the sales clerk who recently spelled my name "Roughner!"

    I've always enjoyed the look of ruffs. There was an old dog in my neighborhood who wore a ruff (like a circus dog) and I always regretted not having taken a photograph.

  2. Hi Mark,

    Thank goodness for your sense of humor and letting me get away with using your name on this post.

    Me too--I've always been interested in over the top accessories like the ruff collar.

    I wonder about other articles of clothing back then--and how they got in and out of clothing . . . um, um, (red in the face).

    I read the popularity of the ruff collar continued into the 17th century, and grew in size--wider and taller.

    Sometimes they tinted the ruff fabric a pale yellow or pink. Was that to flatter their complexion? Were people into dying their hair back then? I figure you would know.

    Back to the ruff--how ever did they sit down to a formal meal and eat without ruining their ruff?

    My first fork of food always falls on my blouse without any effort. May be I should wear a vinyl ruff when I eat--then I could just hose it down after I finish a meal? Ha. Ha.

    Regarding the old dog in your neighborhood wearing the ruff--I would have enjoyed seeing that photo too! You know Mark, I have 2little Jack Russell terriors . . . I wonder what they'd look like wearing ruffs? I've threatened to give them to the circus a couple of times . . .

  3. Hi again, Mrs. D. -

    I've never heard of ruffs in colors other than white (and never recalled seeing them in paintings) but it seems logical that at least a few style-setters of the time would have said, "Why not?"

    And I'm sure that folks in the days of ruffs dyed their hair because, after all, people as early as the ancient Egyptians were using dyes. The Egyptians used a paste that was a combination of lead oxide and lime, which made their hair beautifully black but, as you can imagine, was highly toxic!